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Which Gili Island Is Best For You? (A Comparison Travel Guide)

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So, the secret’s out about the beautiful trio of islands near Lombok in Indonesia where white sand beaches, azure blue waters and incredible underwater adventures await.

I am, of course, talking about the Gili Islands, which we loved exploring during our incredible honeymoon.

But, when you have several different islands to choose from, how do you know which Gili Island is best for you?

That’s where we come in! By the end of this blog post, we hope you’ve discovered enough information to help you decide which of the Gili Islands you should visit.

As always, we hope you find the following information helpful and inspiring.

What Are The Gili Islands?

Looking out to sea from Gili Meno beach
Clear water and white sand beaches await you on the Gili Islands!

The Gili Islands are a trio of islands close to Lombok in Indonesia. There’s Gili Trawangan (often nicknamed Gili T), Gili Meno and Gili Air.

Although all of the islands boast sandy beaches and local island life, they each have different reputations depending on what kind of trip you want to have.

So, if you’re wondering which Gili Island is best for you, then you’re about to find out.

Which Gili Island Is Best For You?

Whether you’re travelling as a couple and looking for a romantic island getaway, you’re a savvy backpacker in search of the latest beach party or you’re travelling as a family, there’s a Gili Island to suit you and the trip you’re most looking forward to.

Let’s dive in…

Gili Trawangan – The Party Island

Boats on the water at Gili Trawangan
Even Gili T has its tranquil moments…

Gili Trawangan, often nicknamed Gili T, is known as “The Party Island”.

Gili T is the largest and most popular of the three islands and is a bustling hotspot for young backpackers on their travels around Indonesia and beyond.

Justine waiting for our Blue Water Express fast boat on Gili T
Chilling out at a local bar on Gili Trawangan

Given the island’s popularity and reputation, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are plenty of bars, restaurants and accommodations to choose from on Gili Trawangan.

Not to mention, it’s also the most well-connected of the three Gili Islands (with most tours and excursions to the islands stopping at Gili T).

Where To Stay On Gili Trawangan

Although you have plenty of accommodation options on Gili Trawangan, here are some of the current top-rated resorts and hotels:

Gili Meno – The Honeymoon Island

Gili Meno Beach
Walking along the beach on Gili Meno

In complete contrast to Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno is the smallest of the three islands and is nicknamed “The Honeymoon Island”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, Gili Meno is the perfect escape from everyday life for couples in search of beauty, tranquillity and quiet conversation.

But despite the quiet island life that awaits you on Gili Meno, there are still plenty of local bars, restaurants and accommodation options to keep you entertained during your stay.

Justine snorkelling at Turtle Point, Gili Meno
Snorkelling at Turtle Point near Gili Meno

Not to mention the incredible underwater adventures that also await you near Gili Meno. There’s a very good reason why many snorkel and scuba diving tours from Gili T actually take you to the shores surrounding Gili Meno!

RELATED: The Perfect Gili Meno Honeymoon | Must Sees, Hotels & Top Tips

Where To Stay On Gili Meno

Once again, you have a variety of accommodation options to choose from on Gili Meno. But here are some fabulous options to get you started:

Gili Air – The Local’s Escape

Looking out at boats from Gili Meno beach
Gili Air is just as tranquil as Gili Meno

And finally, we come to Gili Air (the middle child).

While Gili T is known for its bustling party scene and Gili Meno is known for its tranquil romantic vibe, you could say that Gili Air is an ideal balance of the two when compared to its island siblings.

You’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants and accommodation options to choose from on Gili Air, as well as the similar relaxed vibe that Gili Meno offers.

Gili Air is the closest island to Lombok and is the most visited Gili Island (after Gili Trawangan), so it would suit you well if you’re after some balance during your trip.

Where To Stay On Gili Air

Just like the other two Gili Islands, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from on Gili Air. To help narrow it down, here are some fabulous choices to check out first:

Top Things To Do On The Gili Islands

During your time on the Gili Islands, you’ll find a good mix of fun and relaxing things to do for a few days, such as:

  • Snorkelling and scuba diving excursions (where sea turtles and underwater sculptures await!)
  • Eat and drink at beach bars and restaurants (some even offer live music and open-air movie nights on the beach)
  • Day trips to the other islands
  • Admire the stunning sunsets and sunrises
  • Visit the Turtle Sanctuary on Gili Meno
  • Yoga classes and retreats

RELATED: Gili Meno Snorkelling Guide – Tips To Know Before You Go

Gili Meno Sunrise
A picture-perfect sunrise as seen from Gili Meno

Final Thoughts On Which Gili Island Is Best For You

If you’re still not sure which Gili Island to choose, then here’s our quick guide to help you decide.

  • Couples & Honeymoons: Either Gili Meno or Gili Air are best for couples and honeymoons (depending on how quiet you want your stay to be).
  • Families: Gili Air is perfect for families, thanks to its good balance of amenities and quiet island life.
  • Parties & Nightlife: Gili Trawangan is best for parties and nightlife if this is what you’re most interested in during your stay.
  • Beaches: All of the Gili Islands have stunning beaches, so the choice is yours. The ones on Gili Air and Gili Meno are more relaxing, though.
  • Sea Turtles & Underwater Adventures: As many of the best sea turtle sightings happen around Gili Meno, this is a great base for snorkelling and scuba diving. Gili Meno also has a circle of underwater statues mere moments from the beach. Alternatively, the other islands offer tours and excursions to the sites around Gili Meno if you’d rather stay elsewhere.

RELATED: 9 Things Nobody Tells You About The Gili Meno Statues

Gili Meno Underwater Statues
The underwater statues near Gili Meno

How Long Should You Stay On The Gili Islands?

Even though you can enjoy a day trip to the Gili Islands from Lombok, you’ll likely enjoy your time so much more if you stay for at least three or four nights.

This will allow you ample time for underwater adventures, island-hopping and relaxing on the beaches.

We stayed on Gili Meno for four nights as part of our Bali honeymoon and it was just right for us.

How To Get To The Gili Islands

From Bali

Fast boats are the most popular way to get to the Gili Islands from Bali. There are a few different companies offering this service from Bali with Blue Water Express and Gili Getaway easily having the best reviews.

Island hopping - Gili Islands
A Bali Fast Boat waiting for us at Gili Trawangan

We personally went to and from Bali with Blue Water Express and couldn’t fault the service we experienced on either trip (apart from a rather slow disembarking due to crowds in PadangBai upon our return to Bali).

RELATED: Blue Water Express Bali – Honest Review (+ Top Tips!)

By using the Bali fast boats, you can get from Serangan in south Bali to Gili Trawangan or even Lombok in around 2-3 hours (not including wait times or delays). Or you can get from PadangBai in central Bali to Gili Trawangan in around 90 minutes.

If you’re staying on Gili Meno or Gili Air, then you’ll need to get another boat from Gili Trawangan. Some hotels on the other islands actually arrange to pick you up from Gili T via boat themselves.

RELATED: Bali Fast Boats To Gili Islands – Things To Know Before You Go

From Lombok

Some fast boats also operate from Lombok to the Gili Islands. Once again, Gili Getaway is a good company to consider booking with.

Alternatively, there’s a public ferry that departs from Lombok to all three of the islands, which is the cheapest way to get there.

This guide on how to get to the Gili Islands from Lombok is particularly helpful.

How To Get Around The Gili Islands

Scott walking along the beach in Gili Meno
You can easily walk around the Gili Islands in a couple of hours

There are no cars or motorcycles on the Gili Islands, which is why the islands are considered so quiet and tranquil.

As the islands are small, you’ll be able to walk around each of them in under two hours. You can also hire bikes during your trip.

If you’re travelling with heavy bags, then you might be tempted to use the horse-drawn carriages you’ve likely heard about. We’d advise against this as the horses are usually malnourished and mistreated. Here’s what the PETA Foundation says about them.

Read More About The Gili Islands

Hopefully, by now, you know exactly which Gili Island is best for you. But if you’d like to read more about them, then here are our travel blogs about the Gili Islands:

Did you enjoy reading this mini travel guide to the Gili Islands? Why not pin or bookmark it now, so you can read it again later?

Which Gili Island Is Best For You? Find Out Now!
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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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